As if there was any doubt, 25-year-old Shaunae Miller-Uibo is one of the fittest female athletes in the world – as voted on by Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 of 2020.
She is number seven on the list, trailing American gymnast Simone Biles (No. 1), Brazilian mixed martial artist Amanda Nunes (No. 2), American professional boxer Claressa Shields (No. 3), American world-class alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin (No. 4), American swimmer Katie Ledecky (No. 5) and Australian weightlifter and CrossFit Games athlete Tia-Clair Toomey (No. 6).
Miller-Uibo was voted ahead of athletes such as Serena Williams (No. 12) – arguably the greatest women’s tennis player of all time; Caterine Ibargüen (No. 13) who beat her out for the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF), now World Athletics, Female Athlete of the Year in 2018; former track and field rival Allyson Felix (No. 15); mixed martial artist Valentina Shevchenko (No. 17); swimmer Simone Manuel (No. 19); marathon runner Brigid Kosgei (No. 24); and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Elena Delle Donne, just to name a few.
A total of eight of the top 25 are from athletics, and Miller-Uibo is the highest-ranking track and field athlete.
As a part of her 2020 goals, Miller-Uibo is looking to win double gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games, following in the footsteps of Michael Johnson and Marie-José Pérec who first accomplished the feat 24 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia. No one, male or female, has done it since.
Miller-Uibo appears to be in the best form of her life. It took a stunning time of 48.14 seconds, the third-fastest time in history, by Salwa Eid Naser, of Bahrain, to deny Miller-Uibo a world title in the women’s 400 meters (m) in Doha, Qatar, last year. Naser is expected to bring the heat again this year, but Miller-Uibo has already stated that she will valiantly defend her Olympic title, and hopefully go after the 200m title as well if the schedule allows.
In the 200m, Miller-Uibo was the number one sprinter in the world in 2019 and has a 14-race unbeaten streak dating back to the London World Championships in 2017. In the longer race, she had won nine straight races prior to her setback at the Doha World Championships last year. Her previous loss in that event was again at the London World Championships.
In the Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 of 2020 article, Miller-Uibo was described as having a ripped physique that doesn’t just come from sprint workouts on the track, but also from lifting weights to increase strength and help her build speed.
Her second place time in the women’s 400m at last year’s world championships (48.37 seconds) has her listed as the sixth-fastest in the history of that event. She is in a four-way tie for 11th in the 200m.
Miller-Uibo and her team have asked for a change in schedule at the Tokyo Olympic Games to better accommodate a 200m-400m double for women. At the moment, the schedule favors a 200m-400m double for men but not for women. If World Athletics, in correlation with the organizing committee of the games, agrees to the request, Miller-Uibo would be one of the favorites for gold in both.
It was done for Michael Johnson in 1996 and again for Allyson Felix in 2016, both Americans. Johnson was successful in his quest, while Felix faltered in the 200m final at the U.S. National Championships and was beaten out by Miller-Uibo in the longer race at the Olympics.
The 400m is her preferred race, but some would argue that today, particularly with the sudden ascension of Naser, that she stands a better chance for gold in the 200m.
Miller-Uibo also wanted to do the double at last year’s world championships, but she opted out of the shorter race because it overlapped with the 400m. She first attempted the feat in London in 2017, falling short in both events. She was favored in the longer race but stumbled on the home stretch and faded from first to fourth, and then later settled for a bronze in the 200m.
In Tokyo, the heats of the women’s 400m and final of the women’s 200m are scheduled for the same day.
“It’s a little bit tricky,” Miller-Uibo said to NBC Sports. “We’re just asking them to clear it up a little bit more for us, where we can focus on three [rounds in the 200m] and then focus on the other three [rounds in the 400m]. I think it’s always been so simple for the 100m/200m runners. The 200m/400m being a more complex double, I think we’re asking for a day, if they can at least do that for us. We’ve asked, and we’re just hoping that we can make the changes. I know that in the past it’s been changed a lot for people, so we’re just hoping they can make the change for me,” she added.
In addition to her Olympic title in the 400m, Miller-Uibo is also a former Diamond League winner in the 400m, the three-time reigning Diamond League Champion in the 200m and has won numerous other titles in both events. As mentioned, she is the sixth-fastest ever in the women’s 400m with her silver-medal winning run at the Doha World Championships last year, and her 21.74 seconds run in the women’s 200m is the fastest time in the world in the last five years – ever since Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands (21.63 seconds), and Jamaican Elaine Thompson (21.66 seconds) ran to gold and silver at the Beijing World Championships in 2015.
Miller-Uibo was second in the women’s 400m at those world championships to Felix that year. The world awaits what’s to come from her in 2020 and beyond.